Monday, July 29, 2013

Rajgad via Pali Darwaja

I recently completed watching the first season of Orange is the New Black. I enjoyed the myriad personalities and anecdotes that the good show had to offer. One of them, surprisingly, was an insight into Robert Frost's poem "The Road Less Travelled."  Yes, Orange is the New Black is a prison drama (Or comedrama as some say!).

The poem's last two lines, if taken literately, might eulogize the free-spirited individual and the one who "outstands." However, the poem in it's entirety actually conveys an opposite thought. How? Find out by reading it.

So, coming back to the trek. Of the routes that are popular for Rajgad, the one via Gunjavne village is more popular. Maybe because it's more well known, and promises more thrills. The one less travelled (there you go!) is via Pali Budruk (ahead of Vajeghar village). This is apparently also known as Rajmarg. We reached Pali at around 8:15-8:30 am and started our climb by 9:15 am.

The route via Pali starts alongside a semi-motorable road till another village settlement and from then on a slight elevation through the usual Sahyadri vegetation.

After about an hour's trek start proper steps. These steps are not as easy as they might seem, but they set a nice rhthym, and along with the surroundings (which was extremely cloudy, rainy, and windy) make you feel like you are climbing THE stairway.

At first you come across a small door that might be mistaken for the famed Pali Darwaja, but after crossing it, you can see the actual Pali Darwaja cleverly hidden from immediate access. And now, you can see why it is called Rajmarg.

You can compare the picture taken in summer (from Wikipedia):

With the one we took in monsoon:

Total time - 1.5-2 hours depending on the number of breaks you take.

The fort is beautiful. We went to Padmavati Mandir, where you can stay if you are doing an overnight trek, had some nice hot tea and bhaji and went up Balekilla.

The trek up to Balekilla is a bit tricky. Akin to the rocky part on top of Torna, this one stretches a bit higher. Rocks, moss, flowing water, and the deceiving remnants of railings is a very heady combination. As always you start worrying about the decent all along while you climb. Yet, without appearing to be complacent, the decent is not as tough as is thought initially.

On top of the Balekilla (another post-monsoon trek without the cloud cover is planned right away) it was extremely windy, and whatever little extension of the fort we could see seemed ethereal.

From Balekilla, we climbed down to the main fort and then to Pali. We saw a lot of people climbing up when we were going down. Guess they were up for a night trek. Some of those people also seemed to remark at my Poncho (by calling it a plastic bag), but you have to know the feeling of a T-Shirt and inner-clothes that are still mostly dry after a splendid trek!

At Pali, we ate the usual Pithla Bhakri and by 4:30-5 pm started our return journey.

Rajgad will be climbed again. The next time by the road usually travelled.

One annoying thing about trekking in the monsoon is the flies that are encountered at times. Specially if there is thick vegetation that rises above you. These flies don't bite but they fly around you in large numbers and sometimes enter your eyes and mouth, committing harakiri. They eventually get stuck on your face or whereever they hit you. I am seriously considering getting a mosquito net or mesh for the face. :S

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